Why Is Most Indian Food Vegetarian?
This is because India’s widely practiced religion is Hinduism. It has laws for what to eat, what not to eat along with traditions, and the religious scriptures of Hinduism favor vegetarianism which is why many Indian foods are made up of vegetables only. Cows are termed as sacred so their meat isn’t used in Indian food too.
Vegetarianism has become widespread across India, and finding vegetarian dishes is nearly an easy task here. The vegetarian diet has been a long-standing fixture in Indian culture, and India is replete with restaurants serving vegetarian only dishes. Vegetarianism has been around in India since ancient times, though non-vegetarian food can also exist among high-caste clerics.
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A vegetarian diet has been present in India since antiquity, however, non-vegetarianism is not completely prohibited for high priest families and may even be allowed for food that is non-vegetarian at religious festivals. Even Hindus or Sikhs who are not vegetarian will not consume meat at any opportune or religious event. Most Indians are vegetarians as their religion prescribes that only meat be eaten in some of their religious festivals.
|Lower blood pressure||It can cause gas|
|Reduce the risk of heart disease||Severe constipation|
|Lower risk of eye and digestion problems||It can also cause nutrient deficiencies|
Most Hindus are lacto-vegetarians (avoid meat and eggs), though some may eat lamb, chicken, or fish. Vegetarians mostly eat fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds, grains, beans, dairy products, eggs, fish, tofu, tempeh, seitan, and other plant-based foods.
At the same time, because veganism in India is generally practiced not for political or health reasons — but for religious or cultural ones — Indian vegans can eat more unhealthy snacks, snack often, dine out more frequently, eat fast food outlets, and eat more fried and processed foods compared with both non-vegetarian Indians and Western vegetarians. Thus, the potential benefits from reducing or eliminating the consumption of red meat and/or processed meat could mean that non-vegetarians in India are generally healthier than vegetarians, who tend to consume more refined and processed foods.
The nutritional profiles of vegetarian and non-vegetarian diets in different regions in India are not well documented , though studies show higher amounts of antioxidants (vitamins C, A, E) in Indian vegetarians, which could make them less susceptible to oxidative stress and NCD [56, 57]. Vitamin B12 deficiencies associated with vegetarian diets have been consistently established in studies conducted in India [14,45,46,48] as well as outside India , as well as suggesting the role of dietary-related gene polymorphisms and impaired absorption of vitamin B12 [14,49-51].
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Our findings of higher percentages of vegetarians consuming both macro- and micronutrients at RDA levels than non-vegetarians (except for vitamin B12) and lower overall energy are similar to those in other studies conducted outside India [34, 52-54]. In part, this could be attributed to higher socio-economic levels amongst the vegetarians in our population, similar to findings of the National Family Health Survey-3 (NFHS-3, India) where a greater proportion of vegetarians were from higher income quintiles than non-vegetarians (32.5 percent versus 19.8 percent, P0.0001) . We found positive effects of a vegetarian compared with non-vegetarian diet on patterns of food consumption and nutrients consumed in the four geographical regions of India as well as on dietary patterns.
According to a cohort study published in The Journal of Metabolic Surgery and Related Care, Indian vegetarian diets are associated with higher rates of morbid obesity compared with the non-vegetarian diets. The authors suggest that an analysis of a vegetarian diet on metabolic morbidity in India might have yielded results that differ from those from similar studies conducted in the West. The study predicted that as more people adopted veganism, and as large numbers of Indians continued to eat a vegetarian diet due to religious, economic, and cultural reasons, bariatric surgeons were likely to encounter a higher volume of obese vegetarian patients.
A number of other surveys have quoted studies conducted by PIAN and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which estimated 40% of Indias population to be vegetarian. If we look at the three big-scale state surveys, it is estimated that between 23-37% of Indians are vegetarian. Around 30% of Indians are vegetarians, and due to the size of the population in India, that means that India contains more vegetarians than the rest of the world combined.
India has the largest number of vegetarians in the whole world, and is a primarily meat-eating country. India has the largest vegan population in the world, 40% of Indians follow vegetarian diet. According to WHO, World Health Organisation, India had the highest percentage of vegans among the WHO member states in 2016.
After India, countries with highest percentages of vegans included Israel (13%), Austria (9%), Taiwan (7.5%), Brazil (7.6%), Italy (7.1%), and Germany (6-8.7%). Countries like India, China, Japan, South Korea, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Nepal, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and Mongolia are among those with vegans constituting the majority of their populations.
Based on this difference, one can easily guess that Indias veganism is fairly advanced when compared with the others. This is still, I suspect, a higher rate than any other nation, and there are a couple of reasons that veganism is so fundamental to Indian cooking.
The acceptance and popularity of veganism in India exploded in about the fifth century BC (before the common era), and millions of Indians are vegans today. Widespread beliefs in karma and reincarnation helped to establish veganism as a default diet across most of India. Around 6th century BCE, Buddhism and Jainism were introduced into the region as means to veganise.
In turn, veganism was a far easier diet to stomach for ancient Indian farming classes who could not afford the consumption of meats like chicken, and this is without considering the fact that cow is considered sacred in India (despite the recent illicit trade to southern states) and pork is banned in the diets of Muslim populations, amongst the richest on the Indian subcontinent. Vegetarianism is also found in different societies outside of India, particularly the West, where a small, but growing, number of people are trying to live meat-free. In India, there is the vegetarian and non-vegetarian, a categorisation of eating habits which shows the reality of the country, in which, for higher castes of Hinduism, the abstinence from meat is a duty, whereas for the more modest, a vegetarian diet is mostly a matter of cost.
The concept of veganism is not that widespread in India, and thus, vegetarian dishes are usually grouped with vegetarian dishes in the menu. Vegetarianism has been around in India since the olden times, and vegan dishes have had thousands of years here to develop wonderful flavours and healthful dishes.
According to the latest Indian Food Habits Survey, conducted in the period of 2015-2016 by Indian Health Ministry, 30% of women and 22% of men in India declared themselves as exclusively vegetarian. According to the survey, respondents were asked to identify the definition of vegetarians in India, with others providing a variety of forms. According to FAO, Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations, around 1.3 billion people follow vegetarian dietary pattern around the world.
Is Indian food mostly vegetarian?
India being a predominantly vegetarian nation is, of course, the biggest misconception. In reality, though, it is not like that. Previous “non-serious” estimations stated that over a third of Indians consumed vegetarian meals. An estimated 23 percent to 37 percent of Indians are vegetarians, according to three comprehensive government surveys.
Why do Indians not eat beef?
Veganism is the norm among Hindus. Even meat-eating Hindus are not allowed to eat beef since it is considered to be a sacred animal. It is best to question each Hindu you encounter because some will eat eggs while others won’t, and some will also reject onion or garlic.
How much Indian cuisine is vegetarian?
Of course, the largest misconception is that India is predominantly vegetarian. But it is not the case. Moreover, a third of Indians, according to earlier “non-serious” estimates, may have a vegetarian diet. According to three comprehensive government studies, 23% and 37% of Indians are vegetarians.